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Planning the perfect meal is half the fun of cooking. Finding a recipe, shopping for the best ingredients and choosing a wine is to me as enjoyable as the meal itself. However, sometimes we don’t have the luxury of meticulous pre planning and must improvise. Yesterday was a case in point. While at work, my friend Jim brought me two beautiful freshly caught Rainbow Trout of about twelve inches in length. Normally I would have taken the trout home, planned the meal and prepared them the next day. However, I had plans for dinner the next evening (review to follow) and since there was no way I would let those trout sit more than 24 hours (or freeze them) I decided to prepare them with the ingredients I had on hand. Unfortunately, the pantry was pretty bare and I had none of the items you would initially think of when preparing a mild fish, as for instance fresh herbs and lemon. What follows is the result.
2 Rainbow Trout
2 TBS Extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp Herbed red wine vinegar*
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Gut and clean the trout, leaving the head and tail on. Wipe dry.
3. Clean scallions, mincing about 2 TBS of the green tops, leaving the remainder whole.
4. Cut 6 half circles of the orange, reserving the remainder.
5. Squeeze the juice from the remaining orange sections into the cavities of the trout.
6. Place the minced scallions and orange slices in the fish cavities.
7. Coat the trout on all sides with the olive oil and place on a bed of the reserved scallions on a baking sheet.
8. Salt and pepper to taste.
9. Bake the fish according to the Canadian Cooking Method**, 10 minutes per inch of fish thickness, measured at the thickest part of the fish.
10. Sprinkle the fish with the seasoned vinegar and serve.
* The herbed red wine vinegar is one I make myself. It’s flavored with orange peel, garlic, fresh rosemary, black peppercorns and hot peppers. I will post the recipe or the version I make is available for sale at Route 31 Bike, Board & Ski, Somerset, PA.
** After 35 years in the restaurant business, I rarely time my cooking, rather I cook “till it’s done”. However, the Canadian Cooking Method is very reliable and I often use when writing recipes for others or when I cook whole fish. In 1959 the Canadian Department of Marine Fisheries started publication of the Canadian Fish Cookbook, a mostly forgettable tome except for the technical aspects of cooking fish. James Beard, a veritable god in culinary circles, often quoted the book and he brought the method to my attention through his writings. The method is simple. Measure the fish at it’s thickest part and calculate 10 minutes of cooking time per inch of thickness. Calculate exactly, neither rounding up or down. For example, a fish 1 ¾ inches thick will take 17 ½ minutes to cook. It doesn’t matter if the fish is baked, broiled, fried, or whatever. It will take 10 minutes per inch to cook it perfectly. Naturally, if you’re cooking a thicker piece of fish (½ “ or larger) and the heat source is from one side (broil or grill) the fish should be turned half way through the cooking time.